The autobiography of St. Ignatius
September 21, 2007
Inspirational for anyone
This is a review of the ca. 1900 Joseph O'Conner English translation, which is based on a late 16th century Latin translation, which was based on the mid-16th century Spanish/Italian original. Although there are more modern translations available (based directly from the original Spanish/Italian version, not the intermediary Latin version), for the non-scholar, this is perfectly readable, accurate, and freely available. Plus, until the mid-20th century, most people read it from the Latin version.
St. Ignatius was the founder of the Catholic order of the Jesuits in the early 16th Century. He started from humble beginnings in Spain, and like many of his day, was zealously religious. He rose from obscurity and founded one of the most successful Catholic orders to this day. His life story is an inspiration for anyone who believes in something and has a vision and goal to overcome adversity. This is not just a story about Catholicism or even religion, it is inspirational for anyone.
Some of the memorable scenes from the book include his encounter with the Muslim on the road and his struggle to decide if he should kill him or not for insulting the Virgin Mary. His trip to Jerusalem and sneaking past the guards. His days of begging in the streets of Paris while trying to earn a doctorate in the "Queen of sciences" (theology). Being imprisoned as a youth in Spain and standing up to what he believed in and overcoming the tribunals. His extreme mortifications (fasting, standing all night, roping his leg off with a cord). His injury to the legs with a cannonball and stoicism during three surgeries without anesthesia.
Ignatius was born into the "Reformation" generation, the same generation as Luther, Calvin, Henry VIII and many others who would re-shape religious life as we know it. It was a time when the bible was being made widely available because of the printing press, and a subsequent re-evaluation of what it meant to be Christian. Ignatius was a revolutionary like the Protestants who broke with the Catholic Church, but he was at the opposite extreme, fighting for Catholicism, not against it. The Jesuits would eventually win back Poland, Lithuania and other places from the Protestants, they were called the Catholic "shock troops" or front-line vanguard in the 'Counter Reformation'. They also went on to found some of the worlds top educational institutions which still exist today.